Volkswagen Is Officially Under SEC Investigation Over Failed Voltswagen Prank

Each year, when April 1st rolls in, even the most uptight companies join in the general tomfoolery that is April Fools. Volkswagen was no different this year, except for the fact that it did so days in advance, on March 29, with a “prank” that will probably go down in history as one of the worst executed ever.
Volkswagen is under SEC investigation over ill-timed and poorly-executed Voltswagen prank 1 photo
Photo: Twitter/Volkswagen
And one that could cost the carmaker serious money. Volkswagen of America, the Volkswagen operations arm that was supposed to change its name to “Voltswagen” as proof of their commitment to EVs, is under SEC investigation for that prank almost no one found funny.

For some context: on March 29, VW said that it would call itself Voltswagen in the U.S., via a “leaked” incomplete press release. Then VW said that it wasn’t true, then it lied and said it was true and put out another press release announcing the re-branding. It wasn’t even April Fools when VW had already admitted that the whole thing was just a “prank.”

Der Spiegel (hat tip to CNET) is confirming that the Securities and Exchange Commission has officially launched an investigation into the “prank” and whether it might have influenced VW’s stock price. Should the SEC find a reason to believe that it did and that VW artificially boosted stock price by misleading customers and investors, it could be facing a hefty fine.

As per the same report, Volkswagen has pretty much admitted internally that the prank was a huge “fail,” which may have dented the brand’s credibility in the U.S. for a very long time. Clearly, it will never do so publicly. After the controversy died down a bit, VW Group of America chief executive Scott Keogh tried to explain how the prank was just VW being funny yet deadly serious at the same time (*about EVs). Hysterical.

“When you light a match like this, in the environment, and it gets us, you know, as much traction as it did, you’re just not able to control everything – every phone call, every text, every email, every engagement, every back and forth,” Keogh said. “But the idea came from a very Volkswagen place: Let’s have some fun. Let’s have a gag. Let’s show the world how crazy we are about EVs. Full stop.”

When you’re still reeling from Dieselgate, perhaps lying repeatedly, even if it’s on such an apparently trivial topic as a name change, is not a good idea.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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